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Photovoltaic solar power

Vehicle Integrated PhotoVoltaics (VIPV)

​CEA Liten has developed photovoltaic modules for a solar car demonstrator

Published on 17 October 2019

Assuming the high variability of available surfaces on vehicles and of solar irradiance in the world, the potential gain by PV integration on current vehicles is estimated between 1 000 – 7 000 + km/year. However, integration of PV modules on cars generates severe challenges:  manufacturing, performance, aesthetic, energy harvesting, durability and life cycle.

The teams of CEA-Liten located at INES, the French National Institute for Solar Energy, have designed and manufactured glass-free curved and rigid solar modules for their integration on an electrical C-Zen vehicle (from French manufacturer Courb). Panels built directly into the car body proved to outperform thin flexible solar films on both performance and aesthetic. Cut c-Si solar cells were used to maximize the surface filling. On a restricted and non-rectangular area of 1.7 sqm, 1.3 sqm of active cells area has been integrated for a total power of 206 Wp. The PV system voltage has been maximized to fuel the 12 kWh Li-ion battery and the 15 kW electric motor of vehicle.

Considering a consumption of 100 Wh/km for the Courb C-Zen, the average PV gain has been theoretically estimated to more than 4 km per day) with high variability between summer (>10 km/day) and winter (<2 km/day). These estimations have been validated by measurements during one week in august.

Monitoring the power output of this solar car demonstrator in operating conditions will give unique results on integrated PV modules production under different use cases to demonstrate the benefits of Vehicle Integrated PhotoVoltaics. 

Photos of the CEA solar car demonstrator

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